Flicks and Reruns: The Diplomat Hotel and On the Job

The Diplomat Hotel

Famous TV reporter Veronica Lansang (Gretchen Barreto) bungles up a hostage situation which ends in a tragedy. After recovering from the trauma, Veronica pleads to her producers for another chance in the job, she is then given a so-so assignment, to cover the last night of the famed Diplomat Hotel in Baguio, said to be one of the scariest places in the country.

She leads a small TV crew and a resource person-the son of the former property owner (played by Mon Confiado) to spend the night in the hotel. After shooting a night-time stand-upper, all hell breaks loose.

Despite the spooky location, the film falters, courtesy of a weak narrative, it becomes a confusing riddle; sure there were scary moments but they were drowned out by the histrionics of the melodrama enveloping the hotel. The film's early restraint, particularly in the hostage drama scene played by Abe Pagtama and Gretchen Baretto gradually develops into a shrillfest towards the end of the film.

The film took too long to develop but it failed to properly establish the anguish of the main characters that  contributed to the "ghosts" of the fateful night.

On the Job  

Veteran assassin Mario "Tatang" Maghari (Joel Torre) and youthful assassin-trainee Daniel Benitez (Gerald Anderson) plays an unlikely pair of hired killers who are also convicted felons. When an assignment comes up they are taken out from their cells and transported to the streets to carry out their hits, standing on their way is grizzled policeman Joaquin Acosta (Joey Marquez) and an idealistic but conflicted NBI agent Francis Coronel (Piolo Pascual)

If there is one thing I like about Erik Matti films, it is their unpredictability, you just watch his films and wait for it to unravel.  Films like "Scorpio Nights 2" (Joyce Jimenez, Albert Martinez), "Ekis" (Sunshine Cruz, Albert Martinez), "Pa-Siyam" (Roderick Paulate), "Prosti" (Jay Manalo, Aubrey Miles) and "The Arrival" (Dwight Gaston) comes to my mind.

Aside from editing and cinematography, OTJ's strongest asset is its actors and this what makes the film engrossing to watch- Matti's main characters are tormented individuals who are torn between the capacities and frailties of their persona and the demands/ideals of their profession and it takes a gifted actor to take on the psychological burden of these characters.

In Scorpio Nights 2 we watch Albert Martinez steady turn as a dedicated science professor lusting after his seductive student or in his other role as a kind-hearted member of a brutal kidnap-for-ransom gang in Ekis. (there is no Albert Martinez in OTJ but in his stead is his brother William Martinez in a refreshing role as a corrupt jail officer).

In OTJ, Joel Torre earns perhaps a million of younger fans with his electrifying performance as a seasoned hitman. His range of acting from a cold-blooded assassin mentor to a loving family man was spot on, Joey Marquez textured portrayal of a seasoned but dedicated local cop was also very notable.

Younger stars like Gerald Anderson  brings a realistic naivete to his role as an assassin undergoing OJT, Piolo Pascual competently takes on the role of a conflicted NBI agent, though the young ones are overshadowed by their more older acting counterparts.

After his engaging hometown romantic comedy "The Arrival" (the most recent Matti film I was able to watch) OTJ is a wonderful addition to Erik Matti's body of work, perhaps his best film to date.


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